Meeting documents

Social Services Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 13th October, 2016 10.30 am

Date: Thursday 13th October 2016 Time: 10.30 a.m. Place: Executive Room, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

PresentAndWithReport toReport of
Item/Resolution Status Action

The Chair welcomed Councillor Wayne Hodgins to the meeting and confirmed that he would be taking over from Councillor R. Jones on the Social Services Scrutiny Committee.

He also congratulated Mr. Damien McCann on his recent appointment as Interim Corporate Director of Social Services.

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors D. Rowberry and A. Lewis.


No declarations of interest or dispensations were reported.

Action Sheet (47K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Action Sheet of the Social Services Scrutiny Committee meeting held 16th June, 2016, whereupon:-

Increase in Looked After Children Population

- Members to receive a report on the 1000 Days Public Health Wales Programme - A report would be submitted to the January Information Pack.

- Members requested a Member Briefing Session on the process to become a foster carer - It was reported that the Members' Briefing had taken place.

- Members requested future Monitoring Reports on the Looked After Children Population - A report would be submitted to the next meeting of the Scrutiny Committee.

Assisted Transport Policy
It was reported that the Scrutiny Committee's recommendation had been approved by the Executive, and a report would be submitted next year.

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the Action Sheet be noted.


The Chair reported that the minutes of the Scrutiny Committee held on the 28th July, 2016 had not yet been completed due to pressures within the Democratic & Corporate Support Team. The issue of adoption criteria and interview process had been raised and would have been included on the action sheet relating to that meeting. However, the Chair confirmed that the action sheet would now be submitted to the next meeting scheduled in November.

Report (132K/bytes)
Appendix (65K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Interim Corporate Director of Social Services which was submitted to enable Members to scrutinise progress on implementing the Act as it provided a fundamental change to the way the Authority delivered services.

The Interim Corporate Director of Social Services spoke to the report and highlighted points contained therein.

He said working across the region had identified that the Authority was well placed compared with neighbouring Authorities in implementation of many aspects of the Act. The Department was as prepared as it could have been through the ongoing provision of regulations and guidance from Welsh Government. It also acknowledged the complexity and far reaching nature of the Act which required focused partnership working both within the Authority and with its partners.

The Interim Corporate Director referred to section 5.2 of the report which referred to changes to the Charging Policy, and reported that since the introduction of the Act individuals who receive respite care for less than 8 weeks would be charged as if they were receiving non-residential care and support, which would have significant impact on income for the Department. He confirmed that this would be monitored and subject to a full impact report in 12 months.

In response to a question raised by a Member regarding the possibility of negotiating better rates with care provider, the Officer said the amount the Authority could charge an individual was restricted, so this would not affect our rates with care providers.

A Member referred to the implementation of the Information, Advice and Assistance Service detailed on page 10 at section 1.3 and asked how this was being put into practice.

The Interim Corporate Director said the new Service would be in place by April 2017, and had been linked corporately with C2BG to ensure there was every opportunity for people to make contact and receive the right advice at that point in time. He said part of this work may require more professional advice, and if this could be provided at the outset would help to establish needs at an earlier stage.

The Officer then went through the Action Plan attached to the report and highlighted points contained therein.

He referred to Part 7, namely Advocacy (gap for adult services) and reported that there was a Welsh Government 3 year project to look at professional advocacy to improve the availability of adult services across Wales. The project was cost neutral with no additional funding being provided, but this would be monitored as there was more demand for support.

The Chair confirmed that progress with implementing the Act would be monitored and reported through the Annual Report of the Director of Social Services and reported to Scrutiny on a quarterly basis.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and the Department's progress on implementation to date be acknowledged, and the planned actions be approved.

Report (148K/bytes)

Consideration was given to report of the Interim Corporate Director of Social Services which provided an overview for Members on the 'Living Independently in Blaenau Gwent in the 21st Century' Strategy.

The Service Manager Development & Commissioning spoke to the report and highlighted points contained therein. The strategy was a key cornerstone in the reconfiguration of care services to provide more flexible support for people in their own homes in the community. The changes had been significant and required careful planning and implementation to ensure there was effective communication with and support for those affected by the changes. The strategy had been implemented on the basis of revenue and capital resources being reinvested from closures into the development of alternative community based services.

The Officer said a revision of the strategy was undertaken in 2012 and took account of the principles which were to be adopted within the Social Services and Wellbeing Act (Wales) 2014 which has ensured the plan continues to be as effective and appropriate today as it was when it was first introduced in 2006.

A Member referred to section 2.4 of the report, and asked whether it would be possible to utilise the redundant social services building in Brynmawr for the Community Options Café.

In response the Officer confirmed that an accommodation strategy was currently being undertaken looking at the longevity and sustainability of all Council buildings moving forward, and this would form part of that ongoing work.

In relation to the closure of 4 homes a Member asked whether this had had a detrimental impact on people being discharged from hospital, and 10 years on whether the Strategy had been a success and the right thing to do.

The Interim Corporate Director said it had not had a detrimental impact. Interim care beds were used for people being discharged from hospital giving them more time to recover, and evidence indicated that 80% of people returned to their own home, making Blaenau Gwent the fifth best performing Local Authority in this respect.

He said the Strategy was a success and other local authorities were now going down the same route. He said during the consultation period in 2005 the message was clear that older people wanted to remain in their own homes. In order to facilitate that and to create the funding needed, it was decided to close residential homes and reinvest that funding into domiciliary care and other services to support people to remain in their own homes.

A discussion ensued regarding the budget for aids and equipment, when the Interim Corporate Director explained that the Authority was part of the Gwent wide Community Equipment Service which was a regional approach across the 5 local authorities, in partnership with Health to provide equipment to support people in their own homes. The Intermediate Care Fund was also often used to increase stock for the coming year to ensure additional equipment for use as quickly as possible.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and Members support the approach detailed within the report.

Agenda Items (54K/bytes)

Consideration was given to agenda items for the next meeting scheduled to be held on 24th November, 2016.

RESOLVED that the following items be agreed:-

- South East Wales Adoption Service

- ACRF Quarters 1 and 2

It was reported that the following items would also be included on the agenda for the next meeting:-

- Alternative Methods of Service Delivery

- Annual Review of Commissioning